From Ireland to Austria Series: And More Waiting
This is from a series originally posted on my original blog: Seefahrer Thayer. While I don't recommend it, you can view the original posts here. Because the content had value and useful tips I've decided to repost them here, however, they've since been heavily edited and updated.
Alright, yesterday marked me being here for a week.
I guess I should say something to the effect of what I've learned so far?
- Don't be afraid of looking stupid. Keep in mind you'll never see any of those people again, and it's much more important you don't miss your train/ bus/ etc.
- Plan ahead better than I do. I've been having trouble getting myself up in the morning, I keep giving myself the excuse that I'm tired from walking around everywhere the previous day. If I had gotten here 30 minutes earlier (or if I didn't keep getting redirected 1,000 times) I'd be on my way to Brussels. It's giving me a chance to take one last look at London while waiting on my train, but all the same. And that's not to say you have to reserve spots and what not. So far I've gotten along reasonably well without doing so. Just be mindful, and try and plan ahead as best as possible. I've reserved one thing since getting here a week ago- just one room after missing out on a bed in Belfast or Londonderry. And while I've done my share of sitting around because of poor planning, in my opinion, there isn't such thing as a missed opportunity, it's an opportunity to see or do something else you might've missed otherwise.
- That being said, do make sure you get your rest and drink lots of water, being tired leads to bad decisions and mistakes.
- Try everything- at least once! That's what you're travelling for, after all. So far, I've been successful in avoiding eating anything I can eat at home- though last night I was so hungry I ALMOST went to Subway. I got Indian food, which was good (though it's not my favorite) and Indian food is quite popular here and in England.
- You can never have too many charging cables or plugs to plug them into. Somehow one of my plugs blew up in the socket last night... I was laying in bed, and POP. The cable was okay, but I had to throw away the USB plug. Luckily... I had 2 extra! I also have about 4 USB plugs for my phone... just in case.
- Always triple check your space! Before I leave anywhere I check for my wallet, my camera, my phone, and of course it's hard to forget my two-ton backpack. If you get that annoying gnawing feeling in your gut you're leaving something- don't go anywhere (if you can help it). I was packing my bag this morning and was excited because it looked like I had gained some space. No, it didn't send up a red flag- I was too hopeful for that! And I gave myself credit for packing better and was about to leave when I realised I didn't have my telephoto lense. THAT sent stuff flying about the room. I had some concerns the cleaning staff would go in my room and steal money, but I couldn't conceive why they'd steal that of all things. I forgot that, as well as all my underwear, in the closet. I was completely ready to go, and would have left it. I've lost all of one thing (a $3 TSA approved lock-- thankfully brought two) on this trip by mentally making a checklist of my valuables. This can also be easily achieved by organising your pack as best as possible, so when something's missing it can be easily spotted.
- If you can incur the extra costs/ trouble-- get a bike. Biking through the areas I went to in Ireland would've been grand. London would've been a snap too. Many areas in Europe are INCREDIBLY bike friendly- with protected lanes and lights, as well as many areas to lock them. It's a much easier and faster way to travel, but there are extra fees and difficulties associated with them.
- Learn how to use a map before you even leave. Get lots of practice. Luckily my dad taught us to use maps when we were kids, but if he hadn't... I'd likely still be lost somewhere, in got knows what city or town. It's very important to keep your bearings and remember where you are (at least in general) so you can find your way back, or know where you need to ask directions to. Yesterday I was in such a rush to see the city I didn't write down the name of my hotel, or what block it was on. When I first got on the bus I circled the general area. Well when you're tired, a general area isn't good enough. I was convinced I had gone too far when finally I stumbled upon it. But that all being said, one of the first things I do when I get to a new place is take a look at a map to see what direction the attractions are in, then I make a note of where I'm staying, and I put the map away and walk in the general direction of the sites I want to see. I don't consult the map until I have to. It's fun not worrying about where you are and just going. Having your head buried in a map makes you miss a lot. It also helps to have a good sense of direction, but I can't help much with that. I just keep a mental map of which ways I've turned, and pay attention to what business and buildings I come across so I can use that to find my way later. I haven't bought a local map yet- I would say you can get by on tourist directed ones unless you're leaving the city. I would recommend only buying one if you're spending a lot of time in a county and going to several cities all across it. I should've gotten on for Ireland, but didn't.
- You can have too many pictures. And I don't mean because they take up space. Look with your own two eyes. Have something that you aren't sharing with anyone else- something special that can't be experienced by anyone else. There was plenty of things in Ireland I refused to take pictures of because I wanted them to be mine- and a camera can't capture it the same anyway. There were fields filled with furbushes, and rolling green hills with cottages and livestock. Some of them I couldn't tear my eyes from to take a picture- if that's the case, don't do It. Have something for you- and of course, you'll have the rights to embellish about it later. Enjoy first-hand, and not through your pictures on the computer when you get home.
- Travel alone whenever possible. Or if you aren't, don't want to, and can't imagine doing so, try this: in warmer places like Ireland try splitting up for lunch every now and then. While I'm incredibly envious of groups and couples in big cities like London, I laugh at how much they miss in places like Ireland. In Ireland, I got cards from 2 people telling me to look them up next time I come. You get to talk to the locals- which should be a part of what you came for. I travel to be immersed, not to be an observer from the outside. All I had to do in Ireland was sit across from a stranger on the train, offer a smile and comment on the wonderful weather, and I instantly had a new friend to tell me where I should eat, and fill me in on the local politics and news, as well as great places to travel and see. By the way, I've done very little travel guided by the book I made of sites to see, most of it's been based on local advice and serendipitous attractions. So, if you plan on travelling with friends, do it. But spend some time away, or make sure you aren't so involved with yourselves to meet and talk to the locals- or even other travellers. I've met new friends abound this trip! If you're considering travelling alone- DO IT! No excuses. I don't want to hear the, "oh but I'm a girl" excuse, either. You'll get so much more out of your experience than anyone in a group- I can almost guarantee it. It's also nice being able to plan your own way, when and where you want to be somewhere without having to argue, coerce, or compromise. You'll learn a lot about yourself and your abilities, as well as pick up some skills along the way that'll be with you forever.
- Also, to make "mum" happy, always wear sunscreen. I appear to have gotten a bit burned on my face yesterday, who wants to deal with that on vacation?
That's all I can think of for now, but I'm sure I'll think of more later.
I have one picture of the inside of King's Cross, which I also visited yesterday, and of St. Pancras(which I've been calling pancreas station) hotel and station across the street, where I'm departing from.
I appreciate the feedback I've been getting on here, it's really nice hearing from everyone, especially on days where I'm in a big city on my own. I really miss everyone, and I'm excited to be coming home, where I'm not constantly lost, spending money, asking for help, or cursing bus drivers.
Okay that last one won't change with being home, actually.
Which reminds me of something. Bus staff in any country, unfortunately, including Ireland, are not people. They're the Goloms of the working world. I did meet many nice bus drivers in Ireland, which was a refreshing surprise, but the staff at stations, uhhhhg.
I don't know if you can tell, but I've stopped bothering to read over and edit these- too much to do and see, so sorry if there's some trouble understanding anything.